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PSA: Driving and Distraction

Journal Entry: Sat Jul 9, 2011, 7:49 AM

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I watched someone nearly die yesterday.

We were on the way home after vacation, driving on the interstate.  We were in the left lane passing a semi.  A small Geo-ish hatchback was in our lane several car-lengths ahead of us.

As we watched, the small car drifted into the left shoulder of the road and its left wheels caught in the uneven surface, making it swerve counter-clockwise toward the median.  The car's driver tried to correct, bringing the car back onto the road but fishtailing out of control as it returned to the pavement.  

At this point, the small car was still in our lane in front of us, and nearly in front of the semi in the next lane.  We were all still traveling forward at about 40 mph at this point, down from 70 mph.  The small car was now spinning.

It spun to the left, skidding across the grass median separating the Westbound and Eastbound lanes and continuing across into oncoming traffic on the opposite side.  Somehow - somehow - the people coming the other way managed not to hit it, and it continued its spin all the way across the road where it landed in the grass behind a guardrail.  Miraculously, the driver managed to keep from flipping the car over during the whole incident and looked to be unharmed as we passed.

If we had been following that car more closely - if we'd been following at a distance I see others follow us all the time - we would have been caught up in that accident.   If we'd been texting or talking on the phone while driving, which we both see people doing all the time, we wouldn't have reacted in time.   We would have smashed right into the other car as it lost control, and possibly hit or been hit by the semi that was right next to us.  It would have happened at 70 miles per hour.

For that matter, if anyone behind us had been following too closely, they would have plowed right into us when we hit our brakes while the other car lost control.  And if the people in the oncoming lane (I counted at least three) had not been paying attention, they would have slammed into the car as it spun across their section of the road.  A crash involving cars moving in the same direction is bad enough, but a head-on crash from opposite directions is that much worse.  Assuming the smaller car was still drifting forward at at least 30mph as it entered the opposite lanes, and oncoming traffic was traveling at 70mph, that collision would have occurred at 100 miles per hour.

If.   If, if, if.    Countless nasty possibilities, hinging on whether or not everyone involved was observing a safe following distance and paying attention to something besides him or herself.

Here's the rule that helped keep anyone from dying yesterday:

When the car ahead of you passes an object, you should be able to count off two (2) seconds before you pass the same object.  If you cannot do this, you will hit the vehicle in front of you if it stops suddenly.  It is not a question of luck, or skill; it is a matter of pure physics.  If you violate this rule, you are putting yourself and others at risk of injury and/or death, to say nothing of being an utter jackass.    

Believe me, a boring day when no one dies is a much preferred thing.

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SailorChaos Featured By Owner Jul 16, 2011
Best advice my Dad ever gave me about driving: Everyone on the road is out to kill you.
FugueState Featured By Owner Jul 16, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Amen to that!
princess88alasse Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Wow, that's scary... I'm glad the car wasn't hit! I know what you mean about people following to closely, you see it all the time and it's like: "Seriously? Get off their tail now, jackass." Anyway, we won't go there >>
FugueState Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Too true! It's kind of sad, but I've found the best way to drive anymore is just to be completely paranoid at all times. :roll:
princess88alasse Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Hahaha, I know right? It's so bad out there :paranoid:
honour-huston Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2011
There have been so many times when my safe driving has almost been compromised by people who are driving like they are in the Indy 500, and nothing happens to them: no cops or anything. Driving tests and instruction should be more than a few hours for anyone really. When I went for mine at 16, I asked why we only had a few hours to practice. The instructor (if you could call him that) said that I had to do alot on my own time. We had one car at the time, with a single parent at work all day and me at school, when was I going to practice? they are telling kids to just drive around and get used to it, trial and error. that always ticked me off.

Glad that this potential accident didn't happen, and glad that you were able to avoid it. It's times when others around a reckless or poor judgement driver are minding their own business get caught up in something that could have been prevented.

*gets off soapbox*
FugueState Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Yeah, the overall lack of training for motor vehicles is pretty shocking, when one gets right down to it. Just be as paranoid as possible, I guess! xD
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July 9, 2011


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